Detroit Lions, NFL Free Agency

Lions sign C.J. Anderson: Grade, reaction and analysis

In search of an extra running back, the Detroit Lions have landed on C.J. Anderson.

C.J. Anderson has become a well-traveled running back over the last couple years, with a resurgence down the stretch last season with the Los Angeles Rams. After remaining available into April, Adam Schefter of ESPN and Mike Garofolo of NFL Network reported Monday Anderson has signed with the Detroit Lions.

Anderson signed with the Carolina Panthers last offseason, but he barely played behind Christian McCaffrey and was waived in November. He was then signed and waived by the Oakland Raiders within a week’s time, and landed with the Rams in mid-December.

Subbing in for a banged up Todd Gurley, Anderson had 66 carries for 422 yards and four touchdowns over three games from Week 16 through the Wild Card Round. The Lions will be his fifth team in the last 12 months.

Contract Details

Schefter reported it’s a one-year deal for Anderson.

National Reaction

Anderson sub-tweeted Schefter, with a positive outlook.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network pointed to the fit for Anderson, and his out of nowhere story last year.

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press pointed to the Lions’ interest in Anderson last year, when they had him in for a workout.

The Lions Wire offers a look at what Anderson brings to the table.

The Detroit Free Press passed along Anderson’s promise to be in better shape, after visibly carrying some extra weight with the Rams last season.

Of course, at least in theory, there are fantasy implications to Anderson landing with the Lions.

After making an offer sheet to Malcolm Brown, which was matched, the Lions got another former Rams’ running back. Anderson will replace LeGarrette Blount as the more traditional backup to Kerryon Johnson, with Theo Riddick still in place as a productive passing down back. Head coach Matt Patricia is remaining steadfast in his belief Johnson’s workload should be limited. But he’s expected to be ready for OTAs after a knee injury ended his 2018 campaign early, and the carry split should significantly favor the second-year back out of Auburn.

Anderson has a 1,000-yard rushing season on his resume (2016 with the Denver Broncos), and he made the Pro Bowl in 2014 (849 yards and eight touchdowns). He should have a solid role in Detroit, but he’s still just an ordinary running back. Anything more than a handful of carries per game would go beyond giving a fully healthy Johnson some rest, and move into negligence by putting an inferior player on the field.

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